NEWS | Aug. 24, 2018

Air Defense Artillery Soldiers keep Patriot Missiles going

By Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

The Patriot missile system has been used in theater since 1991 to defend the United States military and its allies against enemy missile attacks. The missiles themselves can reach speeds that will break the speed of sound barrier using advanced radar technology. 


The members of the ADA unit operate and maintain Patriot missiles and their launching stations within the Central Command area of responsibility.


On Aug. 11th and 12th, they completed their master gunnery certification with all first-time go’s.


“Delta Battery’s mission here in CENTCOM is to protect critical assets in theater against air missile threats,” said Capt. Patrick Rachel, the commander of Delta Battery of the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas.


“We just finished up our t-blade gunnery certification,” Rachel said, “which was an exercise where we simulated moving our whole site out to a whole new unvalidated location to defend a new site against threats.”


First Sgt. Andrew Brown, also a member of Delta Battery, said the unit received a warning order from their higher headquarters and then had to execute the movement. In addition to this, each member in the unit had to provide the appropriate licensing and certifications for the various pieces of machinery or vehicles used.


“It’s similar to other combat arms and how they conduct gunnery certification,” Brown said, “but different in the way its executed. With Patriot, we are not able to just fire the missiles at-will because they cost $2.5 million each. There are a lot of simulations that go into one of these exercises.”


After verifying the maintenance portion, the soldiers had to move the missiles and their launching systems to an entirely new site and quickly get them ready to launch. They also had to complete air battle simulations, which the unit passed with flying colors, Brown, a Lubbock, Texas native said.


“Delta battery was able to pull off what is called a ‘Q1,’ or a ‘first-time go’ on the evaluation,” Brown said. “My soldiers are prepared to establish a higher alert state for the Patriot missile system.”


The Patriot missile systems are complex, sophisticated systems that require a lot of maintenance and logistics support, Brown said. The 1st Theater Sustainment Command, in addition to U.S. Army Central Command and the 28th Division, provide that support.


“We get a lot of support from the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, getting all the parts, all the fuel, all the supplies necessary,” Rachel, a Manchester, N.H. native, stated. “We work with them to make sure we get everything we need to keep the system up and running and stay in the fight for as long as we can.”


Brown said the ADA’s job is to support both U.S. and Coalition forces, their defended assets, Gulf allies and anyone else that falls under that umbrella of protection within the CENTCOM AOR.


“The unit’s impact in CENTCOM is providing the commander of CENTCOM protection of whatever assets he chooses that are vital to the theater and giving them any protection we can, against air missile threats from our adversaries,” Rachel said.